Sunscreen has always been a huuuuge deal in my family. I basically grew up at the pool, at the lake, running around in the sun all the time. And as someone who comes from a very pale, Irish family, layers on layers of sunscreen were always a must – especially after we had a few skin cancer scares in our family.
But last summer, as I started getting into more natural makeup and cosmetics, I started looking into my sunscreen, and found out some sketchy sh*t about conventional sunscreens. So while coaching swimming outside for the whole summer, I barely used sunscreen, and was just more mindful of my sun exposure. The result? I got LESS sunburned than any other summer before. WUT.
P.S. Scroll down to get yourself some FREE safer sunscreen!
What if we’ve been doing it wrong the whole time? What if the sunscreen we’ve been using is actually more toxic than the sunburns themselves? Is your sunscreen toxic?
Dangers of Commercial Sunscreens:
The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) yearly sunscreen review “shows that some sunscreen ingredients absorb into the blood, and some have toxic effects. Some release skin-damaging free radicals in sunlight, some act like estrogen and disrupt hormones, and several can cause allergic reactions and skin irritation. The FDA has not established rigorous safety standards for sunscreen ingredients.”
Yes, we all want to prevent ourselves and loved ones from getting skin cancer. But there have been many different studies, starting in the 1990’s that show a correlation between the increased use of sunscreen and a higher risk of developing malignant melanomas, especially among those who use the most sunscreen. And many sunscreens contain chemical ingredients that may be the cause of hormonal disruption. WTF, is our sunscreen toxic?
Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a Sunscreen Guide, after reviewing about 750 conventional and natural sunscreens for safety, effectiveness, and to evaluate their label claims. Here’s what they found for this year:
“Almost three-fourths of the products we examined offer inferior sun protection or contain worrisome ingredients like oxybenzone, a hormone disruptor, or retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A that may harm skin…There is little scientific evidence to suggest that sunscreen alone reduces cancer risk, particularly for melanoma, the most deadly type of skin cancer. Despite a growing awareness of the dangers of exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, and a multi-billion dollar sunscreen industry, melanoma rates have tripled over the past three decades.” (Source: Environmental Working Group)
What. the. Actual. F. Some other things you should know….
SPF over 50 doesn’t mean anything.
People assume that the higher the SPF (sunburn protection factor), the more they are protected from the sun’s harmful rays, and the longer they can spend out in the sun. In 2011, the FDA stated that SPF higher than 50 is “inherently misleading”, and is no more effective or protective than SPF 50. The organization moved to join many industrialized nations in capping SPF at 50…yet this rule hasn’t been finalized, and as we know, there are still tons of products on the shelves with high SPF numbers (that aren’t doing anything but taking your money).
Sunburn is primarily caused by UVB rays, but UVA rays are also harmful.
Over the past 10 years, skin cancer researchers and dermatologists have concluded that for sunscreens to be effective, they should shield from both UVB and UVA rays – but most sunscreen products only block UVB rays, or contain only a fraction of the protection of UVA rays. Look for “Broad Spectrum Protection”.
But…WE NEED THE SUN TO LIVE.
The sun doesn’t only cause cancer (meaning it’s not all bad!); it’s actually essential for your health. Sunlight is the #1 source of Vitamin D3 – without it, plants couldn’t grow, and our immune systems wouldn’t function. D3 is essential for absorbing calcium, improving mood, fighting cancer (yes!), and boosting your immune system, among many other benefits. Getting 15-30 minutes a day of sunlight, WITHOUT SUNSCREEN, is perfect to get your necessary Vitamin D exposure for the day. Just don’t go crazy and totally burn and say I told you to do so, because I didn’t. That won’t do you any favors.
Common sunscreen ingredients, like Retinyl Palmitate and Oxybenzone, can cause skin tumors, hormone disruption, and allergic reactions.
Key takeaways – ingredients to avoid
- Avoid sprays, which can be inhaled. In 2011, the FDA said it would ban sprays unless companies could provide data to show that spray sunscreens DO protect skin, and pose no safety hazards to consumers…they’re still waiting on the data.
- OXYBENZONE is a common UV filter used in sunscreen, and is a known hormone disruptor and allergen. It penetrates the skin, enters the bloodstream, and acts like an estrogen in the body; can also trigger allergic reactions for the skin.
- RETINYL PALMITATE is a common sunscreen additive, and a form of vitamin A, that can harm skin when exposed to extended sunlight. “Government test data shows more skin tumors and lesions on animals treated with this ingredient and exposed to sunlight. (Source)
- Para amino benzoic acid
- Octyl salicyclate
- Menthyl anthranilate
So what sunscreen options do I have?
There are two types of natural sunscreen: mineral and non-mineral. Mineral sunscreens are ones like zinc oxide, which are literally a sunBLOCK. Think beach lifeguards with that white stuff on their nose that doesn’t rub in, no matter how hard you try.
When buying a new sunscreen (or checking out the ones in your cabinet), it’s best to check the EWG’s Sunscreen Guide, the EWG Healthy Living App or the Think Dirty App. If you’re lazy, that’s fine – I’ve already gone through for you and picked out some of the best, that you can either order online or get some place like Whole Foods!
My favorite natural sunscreen brands:
Beautycounter’s sunscreen and sun-protective products perform just like conventional sunscreens, but without any of the harmful chemicals. And you won’t get lifeguard nose with them either, which is why they’re my current favorite. I always use the Protect Stick Sunscreen on my face – it’s one of the only sunscreens I’ve ever found that doesn’t make me totally break out!
This MAY, when you place an order through beautycounter.com/danamonsees of over $100, I’ll send you a free Protect Lip Balm! For orders over $150, I’ll send you a free Protect Face Stick Sunscreen!
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What questions do you have about sunscreen and safer skincare? Let me know in the comments!
Resources: For More Info, check these out!